Long-Awaited 'Star Trek' MMO Finally Gets Warp Speed

LOS ANGELES (AP) - "Star Trek Online" is finally going warp speed ahead.

After years in development limbo, the "Trek"-themed massively multiplayer online game will engage, according to game developer Cryptic Studios Inc.

Jack Emmert, Cryptic Chief Creative Officer, said players will begin "Star Trek Online" as the captain of a small Starfleet or Klingon Empire ship. They can customize their characters from pre-existing "Trek" species — from Klingons to Gorn — and can create entirely new alien races. As they progress through the game, players can increase in rank and gain larger vessels and more crew.

"You'll venture through space exploring new civilizations and life-forms," said Emmert. "You'll also beam down to planets and have adventures inside your ship. It's a galactic-wide game. There's going to be tons of space to investigate. We have a great system for exploration, which will allow for almost infinite possibilities."

Cryptic recently announced it had secured the rights to develop and publish "Star Trek Online" from CBS Consumer Products after now-defunct Perpetual Entertainment set the besieged project to kill.

"We had a friendly relationship with them," Emmert said. "As it became apparent they weren't going to continue to function, they decided to sell off the license. We swooped in and grabbed it. We took no assets. There was nothing to be had, to be honest. We're building everything from the ground up."

Players will also be able to battle against other vessels in laser-blasting, missile-firing deep space scuffles reminiscent of "The Wrath of Khan" and the Dominion War in "Deep Space Nine." Because the game will be set a few generations following the last "Trek" film, players shouldn't expect to run into James T. Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard.

"There might be a ship called Enterprise flying around, but it's probably not the same ship anymore," said Emmert. "Most of the characters will have either retired or passed on, but you'll definitely be going to all the places you know and love from 'Star Trek.' Expect to see oldies like Vulcan and Bajor but also fan favorites like Andoria and Qo'noS."

Emmert plans to unveil footage and more details about "Star Trek Online" — which has no release date set — with Leonard Nimoy at a "Star Trek" convention Sunday in Las Vegas at the Gene Roddenberry Theater inside the Las Vegas Hilton. The "Star Trek Online" panel will also be broadcast live at StarTrekOnline.com.

"You're going to see the actual game working and functioning," said Emmert. "This isn't renders. This isn't concept art. Everything that people will see on Sunday is going to be taken right from 'Star Trek Online' as it stands today, so hardened people should know that a release date might be closer than they think."

Cryptic, the developer originally responsible for "City of Heroes" and "City of Villains," is also working on the superhero-themed online game "Champions Online," scheduled for release for Windows PC and Xbox 360 next year. Emmert said "Star Trek Online" would definitely be available for Windows PC and perhaps Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Other online games based on popular entertainment franchises include "The Lord of the Rings Online," ''The Matrix Online," ''Pirates of the Caribbean Online" and "Star Wars Galaxies." Sony Online Entertainment is currently developing "DC Universe Online" while MGM Interactive is working on "Stargate Worlds."

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